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How To Stop Excessive Head & Neck Sweating

Excessive head and neck sweating can be associated with both primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. Thankfully, there are some highly effective ways to stop the sweating.
How To Stop Excessive Head & Neck Sweating

Excessive sweating of the face, head, and neck, or craniofacial hyperhidrosis, is often a symptom of primary focal hyperhidrosis, but it can also be a symptom of secondary generalized hyperhidrosis. Facial sweating can be especially hard on a person’s self esteem as the face is so often used for social communication and is one of the main focal points on the body. Thankfully, there are several effective treatments that can reduce sweating and improve quality of life. The type of treatment that will be most effective depends on which type of hyperhidrosis a person has[1].

Treatments for Head and Neck Sweating Caused by Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis

A retrospective study done in 2011, published in the Journal of Dermatologic Clinics, found that about 5% of people with primary focal hyperhidrosis (PFH) had craniofacial involvement. While this may seem like a relatively small percentage, because there are so many people with PFH, it is actually a large amount of people.[1] It is also thought that somewhere between 30% and 50% of people with excessive facial sweating have other people in their family with the same problem, making it likely that it is a somewhat heritable condition.[2] Craniofacial hyperhidrosis can cause debilitating symptoms that can occur over a lifetime, so it is imperative that people with the condition have access to treatment. There are several treatments people can utilize and they range from minimally invasive methods to very invasive surgical procedures. Here is a breakdown of the treatments that are available:

  • Antiperspirant - Over-the-counter topical treatments for hyperhidrosis are the first-line treatment a doctor will prescribe. Antiperspirant is safe to use on the face, head, and neck, but it is always wise to speak with a doctor before trying a new product. There are some antiperspirants made specifically for the face that can be useful for those with sensitive skin. Be careful when selecting an antiperspirant for your face because the active ingredients in antiperspirant can easily irritate sensitive skin.[1]
  • Botox injections - Botox is approved by the FDA for the treatment of axillary hyperhidrosis, but it can also be used to reduce sweating on other areas of the body, like the face. When used correctly, Botox can be a very effective treatment for craniofacial hyperhidrosis as it has such high success rates. However, patients need to be careful when selecting a doctor as the injections can be difficult to administer and require specific knowledge. There can be side effects, like mild facial paralysis, associated with treatment. but the risk is much lower if Botox is given by an experienced doctor.[1]
  • Oral medications - There are some oral medications for hyperhidrosis that can be helpful in the treatment of head and neck sweating. They are usually recommended after local treatment options have been tried because they have the potential to cause systemic side effects. Oral medication is often a helpful tool when used in combination with other therapies, but some find them effective on its own. Typically, a type of medication called an anticholinergic, like glycopyrrolate or oxybutynin, is used to treat hyperhidrosis. Sometimes, less frequently, doctors may use beta blockers, clonidine, or benzodiazepines (anxiety medication) to treat the symptoms of hyperhidrosis. If your hyperhidrosis is exacerbated by chronic anxiety or depression your doctor may also choose to try an antidepressant medication.[1]
  • Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) - This is a type of surgical treatment for primary focal hyperhidrosis. ETS should not be considered unless sweating is severe and greatly impacts a patient’s quality of life. It is usually used to treat palmar hyperhidrosis but it can also improve sweating of the head and neck. When performing ETS, a surgeon will cut or disrupt nerves that cause the head, neck, and hands to sweat in order to reduce the symptoms of hyperhidrosis. Unfortunately, a complication of ETS surgery called compensatory sweating may occur, in which sweating begins to happen on the trunk of the body rather than the areas that were treated by the surgery. Compensatory sweating is a common side effect and should be taken into consideration when someone is contemplating surgery.[1]
  • Most people with primary focal hyperhidrosis have to learn manage their symptoms and adapt as hyperhidrosis is an ongoing condition. Treatments make it possible to thrive despite the difficulties of hyperhidrosis and there is some research that suggests that hyperhidrosis may improve with age.[1]

    If you find that none of the above treatments are working and head and neck sweating are hindering your quality of life, you might want to consider being part of a research trial. This can allow you to try innovative treatment options, often at no cost to you.[2] However, this can be risky as unapproved treatments have less research to back them up and side effects are not well studied.

    Treatments for Head and Neck Sweating Caused by Secondary Generalized Hyperhidrosis

    Secondary generalized hyperhidrosis begins suddenly during adulthood and there is a definitive cause behind it. This makes the symptoms of secondary hyperhidrosis easier to treat. Once the causative agent is removed people stop experiencing the symptoms of hyperhidrosis. Most of the time secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by certain common medicines. If this is the case, the person just needs to stop taking the medication that’s causing the issue. Other times, secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by a physiological condition or disease. Treating the underlying medical issue will clear up secondary hyperhidrosis. It is important that patients discuss secondary hyperhidrosis with their doctor in case it is caused by a serious disease. Sometimes, a serious infection or cancer is responsible for excessive sweating. Other conditions and diseases that can cause secondary hyperhidrosis include heart disease, diabetes, menopause, stroke, spinal cord injury, and several others.[2] However, diseases that cause secondary hyperhidrosis usually affect a larger area of the body rather than just the head and neck. If you experience all over body sweating and increased sweating at night in addition to excessive head and neck sweating then you are more likely to be suffering from secondary generalized hyperhidrosis and should be treated by a doctor.[1]

    Lifestyle Adjustments Can Help

    Whether you have excessive head and neck sweating caused by primary focal hyperhidrosis or secondary hyperhidrosis, there are certain factors that will make your symptoms worse. Avoiding some of these triggers, in addition to other treatments, may help you to reduce the amount of sweat you produce. Some of the triggers are weather conditions like high humidity and high heat. Other triggers include things that you can ingest like spicy food, alcohol, and caffeine. Exercise can also trigger extra sweating, but sweating is probably not a good reason to forgo a workout. Finally, emotional triggers can also cause sweating to be worse, especially when you feel stress, anxiety, anger, or fear.[2] It has been shown that hyperhidrosis and anxiety are related and that higher anxiety levels often lead to an increase in sweating.[1] In order to combat sweating related to stress and anxiety you may want to try a calming practice like yoga or meditation.

    In addition to avoiding triggers, you can make some basic lifestyle changes that can help reduce and manage sweating in general. If you have found that antiperspirant is helpful, try applying it to dry skin at night so that it is most effective. It is also important to stay well hydrated and eat small spaced out meals to aid in digestion, as digestion produces body heat which can worsen sweating. It may be valuable to limit exercise before social encounters or work as sweating is often worse for a while even after you're done exercising. Finally, clean the skin on you head and neck frequently to keep it healthy and to avoid build up that can lead to breakouts. while these particular strategies won’t eliminate your sweating they can help you to prevent and manage it so that is has less of an impact on your day to day life.[2]

    Excessive head and neck sweating can be devastating to those affected by it, but seeking out treatment can dramatically improve symptoms and lead to better outcomes. Don’t be afraid to seek out treatment and advocate for your needs if you are struggling with hyperhidrosis.

    Sources
    1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
    2. Dix, M. (2018, October 31). How to Curb Excessive Head and Face Sweat. Retrieved April 25, 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-stop-sweating-face
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